In accordance with the present invention a two-piece tailgate apparatus operable as either a rotatable or pivotable gate comprises both a rotatable and pivotable mount enabling the tailgate to rotate about either horizontal or vertical axes so that the tailgate door panel(s) open on one or both ends, or alternatively along the top. The tailgate apparatus encompasses safety features allowing the operator to open the door panel(s) without being directly in front of the cargo area. Additionally, the door panel(s) are designed to use angular locking and positioning mechanisms to create a more rigid tailgate structure that prevents buckling and collapsing of the door panel(s) during operation.
FIGS. 1A and 1B show front views of the tailgate apparatus and its general construct; FIG. 1C shows an exploded top view of the tailgate apparatus to show the unique alignment locking feature of the tailgate doors. FIG. 1D shows another front view of the tailgate apparatus with the safety chains in a crossed position as they would be when the apparatus was used as a dump-style tailgate or during transit.
Bontrager has developed one type of dually operable tailgate disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,015,191. The Bontrager invention uses a type of dump-style tailgate, but also permits the operator to use the tailgate as a side-hinge gate. The side-hinge gate on the Bontrager invention can be built as either a one-piece or split tailgate; however, the split gate has only one centrally located door latch which appears to require the operator to manually open the latch while standing directly behind the tailgate doors. If materials in the vehicle bed shifted during transport, the operator's safety could be jeopardized if material fell from the vehicle bed when she opened the central door latch. Additionally, the Bontrager apparatus does not indicate any specialized construction to insure the split door configuration retains its rigidity and alignment while the door is used as a dump-style tailgate. Again, such rigidity and alignment is important for safety reasons. If the tailgate fails to maintain its rigid structure and alignment, it could collapse during transport or while unloading material, resulting not only in loss of the load, but potentially causing personal injury to operators and bystanders.
REIDsteel’s solution was to use a tailgate door in conjunction with a nine slab hangar door set on three tracks that covered the entire 121m length of the hangar.